A very stubby start
We've needed something here, and I can certainly build on it. Please take heed how the article on the same subject at the Other Place has, like the war, degenerated into a stalemate of partisan accusations.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that keeping the article focused means keeping the focus, surprising as it may seem, on Iran and Iraq. Both superpowers thoroughly manipulated both sides and there were no clean hands, but the hatred between the two countries was quite significant enough to sustain the war; other powers did not need to play puppeteer. The Tanker War, as well as tensions over such things as the U.S. embassy seizure, drew real blood, but there is little evidence that the U.S. depended on Iraq in these matters, or vice versa. Essentially, there were two or more bilateral (and multilateral) conflicts in play at various times. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:27, 3 July 2008 (CDT)
Thanks to Eric -- copied this to "Related Articles"
Thanks to Eric Gearhart about setting up the related articles. While at The Other Place, I tried to clean up a number of substantive articles, but, to put it mildly, there were some extremely partisan participants and I eventually gave up. I will copy this under the main Iran-Iraq war article. For those who haven't noticed, I have a solid first draft of Gulf War.
Still, both in my userspace there and to some extent mainspace, I did write a fair bit, with substantial sourcing, about foreign support to both Iran and Iraq. In a number of these cases, there may have been no formal national policy of support, and there was considerable clandestine procurement of embargoed equipment.
The U.S. and Soviet Union, however, both had their own interests. I was able to bring over the Soviet material, but, assuming it's useful, I may need to start the U.S. material almost from the start. Certain people had a very strong agenda of establishing the U.S. was behind every bad thing that happened to Iran, and didn't want to hear that Saddam might have had a bit to do with it.
There were also American politicians doing very silly things, such as posturing about dual-use substances being shipped, apparently without having anyone technically qualified taking a look at the list. For example, one of the lists of microbial cultures going to Iraq was a species that indeed is very potent -- if you are brewing fine Belgian ale. Unfortunately, there is a widespread misapprehension that getting organisms for a biological warfare program is the critical part, as nuclear materials are for a nuclear program. The critical equipment is the sort of fermenting gear, and other industrial equipment, that you'd use to start a microbrewery or make antibiotics. It was pretty well established, by the UN, that Iraq got these things from France and Russia. The utterly critical know-how is yet another area. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:26, 9 July 2008 (CDT)
Right now, I'm braindumping material and filling in a rough outline. Since it seems every article on a war grows to be an awkwardly large article, I suggest that the main article primarily contain generally relevant information, but then a few paragraphs on major phases, which will be described in subarticles.
By using subarticles, we can minimize edit conflicts. I'm perfectly open to changing the initial outline. Is anyone particularly interested in topics for subarticles? I have a good deal of material on weapons supply, military doctrine, WMD, and generally technical areas.
If we can do it without claims of original research, I honestly believe that it works best to think of this conflict as having at least two overlapping wars. The first, of course, is the direct confrontation between Iraq and Iran. Some people claim that the "Tanker War" was a very specific U.S. attempt to support the Iraqis, but I believe it is much better characterized as fighting between the U.S. (and allies like Kuwait) against Iran, with the key issue being the traditional U.S. emphasis on freedom of navigation — consider the U.S.-Libyan freedom of navigation fighting in the Gulf of Sidra. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:16, 10 July 2008 (CDT)